Possible Involvement of the Serotonin Type 3 Receptor in the Extinction of Previously Conditioned Fear Responses

Park, Su Mi, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Williams, Cedric, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Due to the high prevalence of anxiety related disorders in our present society, there is an increased interest in understanding neuronal mechanisms underlying the attenuation of learned fear. These contemporary issues represent the major theme of this dissertation, which is to characterize how the process of extinction produces neural changes in the brain to successfully eliminate learned fear. Despite the wealth of past research into specific transmitter systems that contribute to memory formation for traumatic events, only a paucity of recent studies have investigated a putative contribution of serotonin (5-HT) or more specifically, the role that 5-HT3 receptors may play in this process. In light of this shortcoming and more contemporary findings indicating a role of the 5-HT system in facilitating behavioral therapy for fear and anxiety related conditions, this dissertation will examine how new learning associated with the extinction of fear related memories may be mediated via actions involving 5-HT3 receptors and possible changes in GABAergic neurotransmission.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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